We want to fol­low in the foot­steps of Ant and Dec

For­mer Strictly Come Danc­ing star AJ Pritchard talks to GABRIELLE FAGAN about lock­down, love and work­ing on a new stage show with his brother Cur­tis

Bristol Post - - SPOTLIGHT -

Do you re­gret leav­ing Strictly Come Danc­ing?

NO, I’m really happy that I left, although I loved it and miss all the friends I made. But I felt four years was the right amount of time to make an im­pact and come away still hav­ing my own iden­tity.

What are you up to at the mo­ment?

NOW I’m lov­ing work­ing with Cur­tis – we’re so close as broth­ers as we’re only 15 months apart in age, and when we work to­gether, we spark off each other nat­u­rally.

Our goal is one day hav­ing our own TV show to­gether, fol­low­ing in the foot­steps of Ant and Dec. We’re work­ing on a new ver­sion of AJ Live which will be like a va­ri­ety show and a mix of dance, comedy and en­ter­tain­ment.

What dif­fer­ence has your re­la­tion­ship with fel­low dancer Ab­bie Quin­nen made to your life?

I’M a bit of a worka­holic and went from Strictly to pan­tomime and then on an arena tour, and would never have thought of tak­ing a break. But that un­ex­pected 16 weeks off be­cause of the virus gave me time to ap­pre­ci­ate what I’d achieved and look at the other great things in my life, like Ab­bie.

Be­ing in a solid re­la­tion­ship with Ab­bie means nowa­days, when I get home, I find it eas­ier to re­lax, switch off, be silly some­times and just be my­self. It’s made me re­alise how im­por­tant it is to have that other side to my life.

How does your brother get on with your girl­friend?

HE and Ab­bie get on really well and, I don’t know how he will take this com­ment, but for us, Cur­tis is our ‘jester.’ He’s such a ray of sun­shine, makes us laugh and is so pos­i­tive in the way he ap­proaches life.

The three of us have been on hol­i­day to Tur­key to­gether, which was great. Cur­tis and I know each other so well that we know when the other wants time alone, and Ab­bie and I had plenty of time to go off for ro­man­tic din­ners to­gether.

Are you think­ing of propos­ing any­time soon?

HON­ESTLY, I haven’t really thought that far ahead, we’re just en­joy­ing ev­ery mo­ment of be­ing to­gether and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing things to­gether, which makes our bond even closer. But when we see what other cou­ples do for their wed­dings on In­sta­gram, we do talk about whether we’d do sim­i­lar things at ours.

Ab­bie’s amaz­ing. She’s very warm, very kind, and al­ways goes above and beyond in ev­ery­thing she does. We share so much. We met on my

Get On The Floor live tour and I fi­nally man­aged to pluck up the courage to ask her out by the end of the run!

She’s worked with me on two shows and in panto, and she’s a bril­liant dancer and good at chore­og­ra­phy.

She helped with a cou­ple of my rou­tines on Strictly and is in our new show.

You and Cur­tis used the break to study so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing with so­cial learn­ing plat­form Fu­tureLearn. What was that like?

THE courses on Fu­tureLearn tureLearn were bril­liant for both oth of us. Cur­tis did a script writ­ing course, so after a lot t of broth­erly bar­gain­ing, g,

I’ve agreed Cur­tis will have his name in lights along­side mine this time!

How do you look after your health?

FOR me, ex­er­cise is a form of med­i­ta­tion and I find it very calm­ing. I don’t think you can (al­ways) be men­tally healthy if you’re not phys­i­cally healthy. I ex­er­cise ev­ery day, whether it’s weight ses­sions in the gym, runs wear­ing a 20kg weighted vest, or go­ing for long walks.

My brother and I were at­tacked in a night­club two years ago, which really got to me and rocked my con­fi­dence.

It took me quite a while to re­cover from it. But it made me re­alise how im­por­tant it is to talk about things which af­fect you, and open up about them even if it’s emo­tion­ally up­set­ting to do that, which it was f or me.

It would have been so easy to lock my­self away after that, but by talk­ing it through I’ve slowly been able to come to terms with what hap­pened and move on.

I feel really pas­sion­ate now that talk­ing with fam­ily, friends, or a coun­sel­lor is the way to deal with neg­a­tive sit­u­a­tions and dif­fi­cult times. All that helps keep men­tal well­be­ing on

track.

What sums up your ap­proach to life?

MY brother and I had a won­der­ful men­tor when we were younger who helped fund our danc­ing ca­reer so we could travel the world.

She once told us: ‘Grasp ev­ery op­por­tu­nity you’re of­fered with both hands,’ and that’s some­thing I’ve never for­got­ten and live by.

So­cial learn­ing plat­form, Fu­tureLearn, has part­nered with AJ Pritchard to in­spire the na­tion to ex­pand their knowl­edge. Visit fu­turelearn. com for de­tails.

Go to face­book. com/aj11ace/ for the lat­est tour in­for­ma­tion.

AJ Pritchard with Bri­tish Par­a­lympic ath­lete Lau­ren Stead­man on Strictly in 2018

AJ Pritchard and his brother Cur­tis

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